The study asked parents of 800 infants and toddlers - between 6 to 23 months - to estimate their child's daily added sugar consumption. The team analysed the amount of sugar consumed by checking on amounts of cane sugar, honey, other forms of sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup etc. Sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables and milk were not included in the analysis as were artificial zero-calorie sweeteners.
The latest research raises fears on how early exposure to extra sugar - in foods like packaged cereals, baked goods, desserts sugary drinks and candy - can contribute to long-term problems of obesity, diabetes, cavities and asthma.
Researchers at the CDC wanted to study the sugar intake of kids under two.
"This is the first time we have looked at added sugar consumption among children less than 2 years old", said Kirsten Herrick, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CDC and the lead author of the study.
That oldest group consumed an average of 7.1 teaspoons of added sugar each day - more than the amount of sugar in a Snickers bar.
Researchers found that many children under the age of 2 in the United States are eating more added sugar than the recommended amount for adults. Regardless of the recommendations, most people in the US eat more than this limit, research shows. She presented the findings on Sunday 10 June at Nutrition 2018, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition held in Boston.
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The DGA will likely be updated in the 2020-2025 edition to include young children.
How can people reduce their intake of added sugars?
The demographic that ate the most sugar were non-Hispanic black children aged between 12 to 23 months, while white children ate the least.
According to the American Heart Association, female adults are recommended to eat no more than 100 calories or 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. But by the time children reached between 1 and 2 years old, that amount was even higher: 98 to 99 percent of the sugar those children ate was added.
Please note that abstracts presented at Nutrition 2018 were evaluated and selected by a committee of experts but have not generally undergone the same peer review process required for publication in a scientific journal. However, parents should always have the goal to give their children less added sugar, say the researchers of the study. Dr. Herrick said the easiest method of reducing added sugars in one's own and one's children's diets is to choose foods that do not contain added sugars such as fruits and vegetables.
"The AHA recommends reading ingredients" nutritional labels carefully, since "sugar has many other names".